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Home FEATURES Mel Kadel Interview

Mel Kadel Interview

Written by Trippe   
Monday, 09 July 2007 06:28
Hailing from a log cabin in the hills of Los Angeles, Mel just designed 6 bottles of wine, did some graphics for Foundation, lives with Travis Millard, used to skip school and designed Beck's Christmas card?

Mel Kadel used to skip school in Pennsylvania where she grew up. She went to art school in Philly, moved around some and then ended up in a log cabin with her partner Travis Millard in the hills of Ecko Park in LA and is now represented the Richard Heller Gallery. We had the pleasure of meeting her when we were down there for our show at BLK/MRKT last year and was instantly impressed with her personality that along with her work has a very relaxed understated confidence about it.

Age? Location? Artistic education?

33, Los Angeles, CA. I started out at Mass. College of Art (boston), then left after 1 semester. I didn't think I wanted to got to art school, but after a year I changed my mind and went back... to Moore College of Art (philadelphia).

What made you change your mind about college?

I was 17 when I moved to Boston to go to Mass Art. The dorms were co-ed and the school didn't give grades; it was pass or fail. So, all these kids were unleashed together celebrating their freedom from structure and parents, by drinking bottles of robitussin and eating acid. Aside from my own debauchery, I probably wasn't old enough or confident enough to prevail in that environment. Also, I didn't like robitussin. I had nothing to compare it to, and just thought that's just how art school was.

How long have you lived in LA and how did you get there?

8 or 9 years ago, I moved there after living in NYC and Philly most of the time. It was a pretty aimless move to try something new and to shake some stuff off.

What do love most about it?

My neighborhood smells like tacos and bbq's and our home feels like a tree house.

You and Travis Millard live together. How did you meet that feller?

We met where so many couples meet... In the ladies room at a bar. He was painting some stuff up on the wall, and I was waiting to pee. So, that's where we first locked-eyes and talked, and all that stuff. After that, he just wouldn't stop calling me.

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

Having a strong idea of what a piece is about, is the start. After that, the process is drawing it out. I hang on to the original idea, but do a lot of cutting and changing it as I go.

How would you describe your style?


A lot of your work is done on what looks to be really old paper. Where do you find this stuff or how do you go about making the paper look the way it does?

You don't find a lot of old paper that's big. So, I collage a lot of little ones together, or stain it with coffee.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

I'd talk you out of getting in the car and driving through the vast traffic. So, you should probably just come over to our place. I think you'd like it. There are some edible flowers to munch on, and Nebula practices next door if you're into loud metal and heavy drums.

Your house is super interesting. When I saw you last you told us about it. What's the deal with it again?

Our house is rickety. It's one of eight cabins that were built by mormons in the 1920's on the top of Echo Park. There is a lot of weird history floating around these places. Hemingway use to finish novels in one, Steely Dan wrote a couple hits in another, and a dentist was murdered in our front doorway in the early 80's. Our cabin was the first one to be built, out of the group. Our kitchen is the stage-coach that it drove up on, and the house was built around it. Now, it's an old camp for riff-raff grown-ups.

// Mel's home and studio in the hills of Ecko Park

So you guys stay in a lot?... If the city life isn't much of your deal, you guys ever thought about moving into more of a nature kind of place like the Pacific Northwest or anything?

If we don't leave the house, it does feel like nature. The 5 Freeway sounds like a river from here. But, we do have talks about moving and it's pretty confusing since we like where we are.

What are you really excited about right now?

Bob Dylan's 'Theme Time Radio Hour' on XM radio. If there is any way you can get your hands on some of these radio shows, you're in for some eye opening sounds and the most entertaining hosting to hit the satellite airwaves. The "Drinking" and "Devil" shows are a couple of the best.

When are you the most productive?

When momentum is happening. The more I'm getting busy, the more thoughts I have about what to do next.

Favorite place traveled?

Port Antonio, Jamaica. Before tourism in Jamaica, Port Antonio was the place to travel to. But then Montego Bay and other spots sprung up on the opposite side of the island. So, P.A. was left alone from any big construction. It's a radical place.

You guys are coming up to SF for Travis's book deal. You been up here before? If not, what's your impression of SF and what do you plan on doing / looking forward to when here.

Yeah I'm looking forward to it. It's been a long time since I've been there. Other than the "Volcomics" opening on the 14th (Space Gallery), and Travis's book signing on the 15th (Giant Robot), I'm looking forward to sailing with you.

Your represented by Richard Heller Gallery. How is that and what advice would you give someone about to head down that path?

We have a rad relationship. I've always liked what he did, so it feels good to work with him. We all invent our own paths, so it's hard to give one way of advice. Be hard working.

What were you like in high school?

haaa... I just started thinking about the way my bangs looked, and how I got saturday-work-detail for hucking a piece of gum across the classroom. The principal actually told me that I could have hurt someone. I use to skip a lot. I'd open and slam the door, so my mom would think I left the house to go to the bus stop. But, I was actually hiding in the basement for an hour or so, until she left for work. Once I heard the garage door close, I'd go about my day. Sorry mom.

What would you do all day?

I would just have the house to myself. I don't know... it's probably not that interesting to list it all out. I wish it was. And if that's not disappointing enough... sometimes when I skipped, I would go to my brother's school as a guest.

Whatcha' got coming down the line?

I just designed 6 bottles of wine, called 'Strong Arms' Shiraz. We got a sample bottle the other day, and it's good... and strong. If you like wine, you'll be able to find them in the early fall.

*Can you list any blogs or other sites you may have your work on or another interview?

Two Shows I'm in now: The Porch Show at the Cinders Gallery: http://www.cindersgallery.com/ Banjo Quilt at the OKOK Gallery: http://www.weareokok.com/ and.... Richard Heller Gallery: www.richardhellergallery.com - melkadel.com {moscomment}

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